Dempsey goal gives U.S. win over Italy
GENOA, ITALY | The United States stunned Italy 1- 0 on Wednesday as Clint Dempsey’s second-half goal gave the Americans their first victory over the Azzurri in 11 meetings.
Dempsey became only the fourth American to score against Italy when he fired past Gianluigi Buffon in the 55th minute, and the U.S. clung on for a memorable win in the friendly.
It is Jurgen Klinsmann’s fifth victory in 10 games as U.S. coach and will also serve as personal revenge for the former Germany great after losing the 2006 World Cup semifinal to eventual champion Italy when in charge of the German national team.
“It’s historic for us beating a team of Italy’s level and it’s a very good win,” Klinsmann said. “But what we wanted to do above everything was to learn, to see how we could do against a team like Italy. I think the boys did very, very well, they played great for 90 minutes. And moreover we have young players and they’re growing and it’s from games like this that they do.”
Italy almost snatched a draw in stoppage time when Riccardo Montolivo’s effort flashed past the right upright. It is the Azzurri’s first defeat in Genoa since 1924, and came despite the hosts creating a majority of the chances.
“With this spirit we’ll have a great European Championship. I’m absolutely not worried,” Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said. “I have a lot to think about ahead of the Euros and I’ll take the best things from this game — the will to win, the determination, the fight to get back. . . . So it’s not a ‘lost’ friendly match. There’s a lot to take from this. I’m sure I’ll have the team ready by the summer.”
The atmosphere in the Stadio Luigi Ferraris was very different from the last time the arena hosted a match, when Italy was awarded a 3-0 win over Serbia in European Championship qualifying after the game was called off in the seventh minute following crowd trouble from the visiting fans.
There was no sign of such trouble Wednesday, and a sizable American contingent added to the lively atmosphere.
Klinsmann had hoped to be able to pair Dempsey with Landon Donovan for the first time since taking over as coach last year, but the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder-forward pulled out of the squad Sunday with bronchitis.
Italy almost got off to the perfect start when Antonio Nocerino launched a long ball toward Alessandro Matri, but goalkeeper Tim Howard rushed out and cleared the danger along with right back Steve Cherundolo.
Italy also went close seconds before halftime. Nocerino’s cross in was cleared by the U.S. defense but straight to Thiago Motta, who lashed in a fierce effort which Howard did well to stop.
The U.S. stunned Italy 10 minutes after the break when Jozy Altidore laid off Michael Bradley’s cross to Dempsey and the Fulham midfielder lashed in a fierce shot that flew past Buffon’s outstretched hand and into the bottom left corner. It was Dempsey’s 25th goal in 83 appearances.
“Initially, I was going to stay where I was and have him lay it back to me,” Dempsey said. “I saw the guy was covering. So I tried to move to my right to try get open so he could play me the ball. He did a great job of holding it up, playing me, and I just tried to hit it low and hard, far post, and it went in.”
U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey (right) celebrates his 55th-minute goal in the Americans’ 1-0 win at Italy on Wednesday. It was the United States’ fourthstraight win and first victory over the Azzurri in 11 meetings.